UC-Davis ousts religious discrimination definition that characterized Christians as oppressors

University says definition will either be revised or eliminated in wake of concerns expressed in letter from ADF-allied attorney
Thursday, February 17, 2011

DAVIS, Calif. — The University of California at Davis agreed Wednesday to either revise or eliminate its problematic definition of religious discrimination that characterized Christians as oppressors of non-Christians. The definition was the subject of a letter sent to UC-Davis by an Alliance Defense Fund allied attorney on behalf of more than 25 concerned students that same day.

“Christians deserve the same protections against religious discrimination as any other students on a public university campus. It’s very good to see officials at UC-Davis agree,” said ADF Senior Counsel David French. “Anti-Christian discrimination is an epidemic on American university campuses, and that’s what made the UC-Davis definition ridiculously absurd. We wish that more universities would be as proactive in addressing such concerns as UC-Davis has been here.”

The UC-Davis policy defined “Religious/Spiritual Discrimination” in its “Principles of Community Glossary” as “The loss of power and privilege to those who do not practice the dominant culture’s religion.  In the United States, this is institutionalized oppressions toward those who are not Christian.”

A letter from the university received Wednesday explained that the webpage containing the glossary “has been taken down to permit further review of the terms used there and their continuing utility” because the religious discrimination definition “is not in keeping with the aspirations of the campus community or our Principles of Community…. If the glossary returns, this definition will be appropriately revised.”

ADF-allied attorney Tim Swickard, one of nearly 1,900 attorneys in the ADF alliance, had sent a letter to the university explaining that the definition is unconstitutional under both the U.S. and California constitutions. Citing research, the letter also explained that “the UC Davis policy is simply nonsensical given the environment on most University campuses where Christian students, if anything, are among the most likely to be subjected to discrimination because of their faith.”

“We greatly appreciate the university’s prompt and forthright response to our letter in immediately taking down the Principles of Community Glossary web page,” Swickard said. “We greatly look forward to UC-Davis’s newly stated community aspiration to protect all students--including Christian students--from unlawful discrimination on campus.” 

ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.